FEMA’s mission is to help people before, during and after disasters, and planning is key to helping the masses.
A common misnomer is that FEMA is going to be the first responder on the ground when, in fact, the agency is part of a big team.
“The reality is that disasters are at the local level, they’re handled by the local government first,” said Robert Samaan, the Deputy Regional Administrator for FEMA region 4.
Much like many Floridians prep for hurricane season, FEMA preps for disasters ahead of time, too. The team will pre-stage commodities, like fuel, power generator, water and food. That way, after the hurricane has passed, these items are readily available for local entities to distribute. It’s this very prep that makes their teams so efficient.
Last year, FEMA broke records and it wasn’t just by helping out after hurricanes. It was the first time FEMA led a nationwide response to a pandemic, working 230 declared emergencies in a single year, including COVID-19. To pull it off, 5,300 FEMA members fanned out to every corner of the nation. They were in the field for a record 314 days out of the year. This surpassed the old record of 78 days.
Samaan says FEMA needs residents to help, too.
“You know your home, you know your neighborhood, better than anyone else,” Samaan said.
Being prepared ahead of time, residents will be in a better position after the storm strikes, even if their home is damaged.
Samaan also said that homeowners should check insurance policies to see what’s covered. Many people are often surprised to see that the homeowner’s insurance policy doesn’t cover certain kinds of damages caused by hurricanes or that there are sometimes added deductibles.
“Go and figure out what your risks are and then take action. Don’t wait and take action now,” Samaan urged.
As a Central Florida native, he knows all too well what it’s like to live through hurricanes.
“Growing up in Daytona Beach I saw it, you know, and I still see it every hurricane season,” he said. “The people of Florida are very resilient. We stand ready to do our mission to help.”